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Israeli PM wins interl party elections

Jerusalem, January 1: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will continue to lead his right–wing Likud party, according to initial results of the party’s interl elections. Knesset (parliament) member Danny Danon, who served as the party’s central committee chairman, and was the only one who challenged Netanyahu’s leadership and ran opposite him, accepted his loss Wednesday night, Xinhua reported.

“The apparent results show that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won the interl elections,” Dannon told reporters at Tel Aviv’s Fairground Convention Centre, where the party’s control centre is located. “I wish him luck and will call to congratulate him and together we will work to win in the tiol elections March 17,” he added.

Fifty–five percent of the party’s 96,651 registered members cast their votes throughout the day, deciding the makeup of the Likud party’s list prior to the upcoming elections. Political pundits estimated that the party’s list would be more right wing than before.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently taken a more hardline stance on several tiol issues, apparently in order to win the votes of the party’s far–right constituency in the primary elections. Now that Netanyahu has passed this hurdle, he will face off against former justice minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) and M.K. Yitzhak Herzog (Labour), who have formed a joint centre–left list, and from the right he will face the tiolist, settler–backed Jewish Home party, headed by ftali Bennett.

Recent polls are showing a slight advantage for Livni and Herzog over Netanyahu’s Likud party (23–21 seats in the Knesset, out of 120) and Bennett is set to head the third biggest party with a forecast of 17 seats. The elections will be held on March 17. After the results come out, Israeli President Reuven Riviln will decide which politician should form a government. (IANS)

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